Toe-touching exercises are a basic calisthenic form of exercise that provides a number of benefits. This exercise can be performed while standing up or lying down on the floor, and it works multiple muscle groups in addition to offering flexibility and stretching benefits. Toe touches are also an effective cool down after a cardiovascular workout.
Toe touches can help improve your flexibility. They stretch your shoulders, back and leg muscles, especially the hamstrings, which are on the back of your thighs. For example, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. If you're new to exercise, widen your stance. Slowly bend forward, allowing your arms to hang down in front of you. Don't bounce, but lower yourself slowly. You want to feel tension but not pain. Hold the stretch for several seconds, and then lift yourself upward to your starting position. Repeat several more times.
Lying down toe touches offer benefits of effective abdominal strengthening, which you can adapt to suit your current physical condition and stamina. For example, lie down on your back on the floor, knees bent, arms extended above your head. Holding in your abs, bend your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left foot on the floor. As you lift your right knee toward your chest, reach down with your left arm and touch your left hand to your right toe. Immediately return to your starting position, and then switch sides. Strive to perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side, lifting shoulders off the floor and keeping your lower back pressed down into the floor throughout. This exercise specifically works the major abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominus, a large muscle group that makes up the front of your abdominal torso.
Strengthen and stretch your hip flexor muscles and your quadriceps at the same time by engaging in toe-touch exercises that focus on the legs. For example, lie on your back on the floor, legs outstretched. Keep your left leg extended parallel to the floor while lifting your right leg, toe pointed inward toward your chest, up to a 90-degree angle. At the same time, lift your upper torso off the floor, arms outstretched, and touch your fingers to your toe. Immediately lower your right leg, and then lift your left leg off the floor while while keeping the right leg extended, heel just touching the floor. This toe-touching exercise works not only the thigh, buttocks and hip flexor muscle groups of the working leg, but your abdominals and lower back, as well. Perform 10 to 20 scissor-type alternating leg lifts at a time.
Warm up your muscles at least a few minutes before stretching to avoid stretching cold muscles too much and causing an injury. Ideally, you would use your stretches as a cool down following an activity. Toe touches and similar spine- and leg-lengthening stretches may help you prevent injury to your hamstrings and back by flooding these large muscle groups with nourishing blood and oxygen after a good workout.